The Struggle Continues…
By Sarah Afzal

March 7, 2009
The characters and incidents portrayed in the article below are completely fictional. Any resemblance to characters living or dead is completely coincidental and unintended. This article does not represent the stance of the entire organization on the issue, merely the opinions of one Trooper.

I am sitting by the fire-place, watching the flames crackle and burn; sending wisps of smoke up the chimney.
Fire…
As I watch the flaring blazes, my mind reels back…back to my childhood.
**************
1965. I was a mere twelve-year-old then, and most of the information I got about different happenings came from my father, a local school’s head-master and man of letters. My Abbu would tell me bed-time stories about the history of my homeland, Kashmir. He told me that with the partition of the sub-continent, it was announced that the princely states were to choose between joining either Pakistan or India, according to the wishes of the local populace. Yet Kashmir’s tyrant emperor, Hari Singh, wanted her to remain independent, so that he could remain its sole ruler. He delayed joining either of the countries, and, at the same time, initiated a campaign against the Muslim majority of Kashmir, which was slain, looted, and left homeless. These locals, in return, started a rebellion against him. As Hari Singh could not deal with this insurgency alone, he sought help from India. The Indian leadership agreed to help only if Singh would accede to India. In desperation, Hari Singh agreed. The Indian Army entered Kashmir through Gurdaspur, the Muslim majority area unjustly given to India by Lord Mountbatten, and war broke out between the Kashmiri Muslims, assisted by the Pakistani Army; and the Indian Army. The U.N.O. soon announced ceasefire, and it was decided that the fate of Kashmir would be settled by a U.N. organized plebiscite, to be held soon. That moment, however, never arrived, and Kashmir remained the bone of contention between the two neighbours, India and Pakistan.
With the arrival of August, Abbu informed me that men from Pakistan had been visiting our area to seek support for an uprising in Kashmir meant to oust the Indian invaders from our land and block Gurdaspur, the only passage between India and Kashmir. I was excited and asked Abbu if all our neighbors were ready. Abbu just sighed and said:
“Beta, they are afraid. You know what the Sipahis did to young Mushtaque when he was protesting against them, didn’t you?”
“But… but you aren’t scared, are you?”
“No, dear. I am trying to convince the others, too.” He said,” And there is still hope.”
This satisfied my innocent mind. I glanced proudly at Abbu. He will succeed, I thought.
War started only a few weeks later. The Pakistani Army had entered Kashmir with their hopes high, but the natives, who had half-heartedly promised it of their support, were now unwilling to fight. Abbu started remaining out all day long and returning home late and exhausted. I was sternly told to stay home, even after my repeated requests to my parents to let me join the fight.
Abbu told me one night that India had attacked a Pakistani city, Lahore, to divert the army’s attention from Kashmir. I couldn’t get a wink of sleep that night, partly because of the news, and partly because of the sound of bombshells coming from outside. Irritated, I got up from my sleeping-rug, and finding my parents fast asleep, I unlatched the door to get outside for some fresh air. Stepping outside, I began strolling towards a nearby pasture. In the next few seconds, my life changed forever.
At first, I heard a huge explosion from behind me which forced me to fall on the ground, facedown. My whole body started burning. I opened my mouth to scream, but was only able to murmur:”Abbu, Ammi, help me…”
Dazed, I slowly stood up on my shaking legs and turned around to have a look at what used to be my home, now just ashes engulfed by a fiercely burning fire.
Fire…
*****************
The fire is still burning. I wipe my tears and recall what had happened afterwards. I had staggered along to a relative’s house, which was situated nearby. That family shifted me to an orphanage in Pakistan when they migrated themselves. I studied hard after that and finally managed to get myself enrolled in a Cadet College and become a soldier in the Pakistani Army; to fight for my Abbu, my Ammi, my friends…, my homeland, till death takes over.
I move towards my cupboard and extract my khaki brown army uniform. I fondle it and cry.
“You will be liberated, Kashmir.” I pledge, “You will be free.”



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